Botswana to set up boreholes to save drought-stricken elephants

The Botswana government and some unnamed private organisations are setting up boreholes in the northern part of the southern African country to save drought-stricken elephants, an official said Monday.

Thato Raphaka, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, said all wildlife regional offices in northern Botswana have been requested to report elephant mortalities as soon as they happen.

“As of now, the government and some private organisations are assisting with the setting up and rehabilitation of boreholes in the northern region (of Botswana) so as to provide water to the wildlife,” said Raphaka in a telephone interview with Xinhua.

According to Raphaka, wildlife officials based in the northern part of Botswana have been requested to report elephant mortalities quickly to allow for further investigation. Raphaka said wildlife officials travel long distances in search of water and vegetation as northern Botswana is affected by climate change-induced drought hence. This has led to the wild animals coming into contact with diseases and ultimately dying.

Last week, at least 120 elephants in Chobe area, some 870 km northwest of Botswana’s capital city, Gaborone were reported dead mainly due to anthrax, which is associated with the drought, he said. Where anthrax is suspected, Raphaka said the dead animals are disposed of by burning to stop the disease spreading to more animals, which would lead to further deaths. He said the latest deaths were in the Chobe Riverfront and Nantanga areas in northern Botswana, where 14 dead elephants were found this week.

Anthrax is not contagious and humans can only get infected by ingesting the bacteria. It can be prevented in animals via regular vaccination. Botswana is home to almost a third of Africa’s elephants, around 130,000.  The over-population of elephants, which far exceed the carrying capacity, forced  the government to lift  the ban on big-game hunting to combat the escalating conflict between humans and wildlife.

Source: Xinhua

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